The attacking trio all got on the scoresheet as the Bundesliga champions continued their march at the top of Germany’s top flight
Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowksi and Arjen Robben all scored as Bayern Munich swept aside Hoffenheim 4-0 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
First-half goals from the former Dortmund pair burst the bubble of a visiting side who started the game in a positive fashion, with Arjen Robben and Sebastian Rode adding the late gloss before Adam Szalai saw red for Hoffenheim.
Perhaps buoyed by having earned a thrilling 3-3 draw on their last visit to the Allianz Arena, Markus Gisdol’s men took the game to the hosts in the early stages and Anthony Modeste missed an excellent chance to put them ahead.
But such a bold approach to taking on the champions was always likely to bring a degree of risk, and the backlash began in the 23rd minute when Gotze arrowed home a stunning long-range drive.
Lewandowski was on hand to make it 2-0 with a simple header just before the interval, while Robben provided a delicate finish for the third and substitute Rode took a more robust approach to rounding off the scoring three minutes from time.
The home crowd were even treated to the welcome sight of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s return from a long-standing knee injury in the second half, as Bayern took full advantage of nearest challengers Wolfsburg’s loss at Schalke.
Bayern’s injury problems worsened on Tuesday when captain Philipp Lahm was ruled out for several months with a fractured ankle, joining fellow defenders David Alaba and Holger Badstuber (both knee) on the sidelines.
Mehdi Benatia and Juan Bernat have been two of the major beneficiaries of Pep Guardiola’s reduced selection options and both started, with the hosts seeking a ninth straight home league win.
Despite Bayern’s impressive home record, the visitors – who suffered back-to-back defeats prior to the international break – demonstrated a clear determination to get on the front foot from the start.
A rapid break led to a glorious eighth-minute opening for Gisdol’s men, with Modeste’s close-range header from Tarik Elyounoussi’s cross bouncing narrowly wide.
But Bayern carried a threat of their own and, after firing a couple warning shots, Guardiola’s side took the lead midway through the opening half.
Gotze received the ball in space 25 yards from goal and seized his opportunity to shoot, sending a fierce strike beyond the diving Oliver Baumann and into the top-right corner.
Manuel Neuer took a characteristic risk with his side’s advantage only five minutes after they had gained it, attempting to turn the onrushing Kevin Volland inside his own area and only just getting away with it.
The hosts were afforded the comfort of a two-goal lead five minutes before the interval when Lewandowski rose unopposed at the far post to nod in Robben’s floated cross.
Gotze brought the best out of Baumann with a powerful effort from inside the area early in the second half as Bayern sought to put the game beyond Hoffenheim’s reach.
Gisdol’s charges felt they should have been awarded a penalty just past the hour mark, but Rode escaped sanction for his untidy challenge on Sebastian Rudy.
Schweinsteiger, out of competitive action since Germany’s World Cup final victory over Argentina back in July, came off the bench late on and received a reception fitting of a one-club man of over 12 years’ service.
The celebratory mood was enhanced by Robben’s deft chip and Rode’s powerful strike, with Szalai dismissed in the closing minutes for a poor tackle on fellow substitute Dante, as Bayern’s dominance of the German top flight was further underlined.